LePage in letter to Obama: Maine no longer participating in federal refugee settlement program

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Gov. Paul LePage is withdrawing the state of Maine from the federal refugee settlement program, citing a loss of confidence in its ability to safely and responsibly operate.

In a letter Friday, Gov. LePage informed President Obama and notified the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) that Maine would no longer be participating in the program.

"The federal government has proven to be an unwilling partner with states in ensuring that refugee settlement does not unduly put American lives at risk," LePage wrote.

Maine joins Kansas, New Jersey and Texas in severing ties with the ORR.

In the letter, LePage included the case of refugee Adnan Fazeli of Freeport, who was revealed in August through an FBI investigation to have died last year while fighting for the Islamic State.

"I sincerely hope that the federal government will re-evaluate its current refugee policy — both the quantity and nation of origin of refugees it resettles and the vetting process they are subjected in —  in order to best protect the safety and interests of the American people," LePage wrote.

According to LePage's office, the governor has directed the state Health and Human Services Department (DHHS) to work with federal counterparts to implement a transition out of the ORR program.

The ORR was created after the passing of the 1980 Refugee Act, which provided the legal basis.

By withdrawing from the federal program, LePage has removed state workers from the integration assistance process but has not stopped refugees from entering or living in Maine.

Copyright 2016 WCSH


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